Sunday, March 10, 2013

chinese new year and power week- February 19, 2013

wu an :)

to answer the question each of you has NO DOUBT been losing sleep over: YES!!!!! i survived my first 100% authentic chinese new year! i'm twice the size of a beluga whale and about 10 times as blubbery but i'm happy as a clam (or i guess, as happy as said beluga whale. i think they seem like pretty contented creatures).

here are my conclusions about my first chinese new year: i never want to eat again. i mean of course i do but last week was ridiculous. Sister l and i went running every morning and did some exercises at night before bed in a mad attempt to counteract the onslaught of food. every day we had at least one meal that was a feast fit for a king (it really made me feel sorry for all the kings out there...if they have to eat like this all the time the pleasure of eating surely ceased to exist with them since the days of their birth). the good news is, all my skirts still fit, and we only had two dinners in a row ONE TIME. the very best part about chinese new year was getting to spend so much time with our incredible members (and investigators!) and their families.

two of the new converts sister l and i have been spending a lot of time with just got baptized in december and are both from mainland china (that means they have really sweet accents that we have to listen extra carefully when they talk) sister yi and sister huang (as usual, not real names). they are best friends and live in like the outskirts of our area at the top of this enormous hill. it's the place i went to when i came here on sister exchanges with the huge cement compound of houses that feels like a giant maze and tons of mainlanders live there. it's the same area where sister xue, the chicken slayer, lives (PS she came to church last week. YESSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!).

so we spend a lot of time with them to help with the challenges people often face after baptism. sister yi is a widow and she lives in this old man's house cooking and cleaning for him. she has a friend who is a member of a different christian church run by some korean man and this friend always makes negative comments about our church so sister yi has been kind of confused and upset lately. we bike up there several times a week to read the scriptures with her which she LOVES and we also eat dinner with her pretty frequently at her good friend xiao li's house. last week xiao li came to church and really liked it and then had us over for her specialty smoked pig. we've been slowly but surely sharing the gospel with her. when we went to eat at her house we sang a lot of hymns together. sister yi's most very favorite is "in our lovely deseret" because it talks about children keeping the word of wisdom and when she first sang it is when she decided she could keep that commandment!!! it's so classic we sing it every time we go see her.

it was one of the greatest moments in taiwan, sitting in xiao li's little front room, singing hymns loudly and happily. xiao li of course is completely unfamiliar with them but tried so hard to sing along. her husband is elderly and can't hear or talk but he was in the back room coughing really loudly. it was a strange and divine chorus. i looked at xiao li's face carefully, i knew she felt the spirit. she has invited us over a lot lately. in fact we were there yesterday and when we left she threw her arms around me and said "i really like you" and she had a contemplative look on her face that i have never seen before. it's really exciting to kind of see how she slowly warms up to the gospel. i absolutely adore her. we asked her to say the closing prayer yesterday and she thanked heavenly father that sister l and i could eat dinner at her house and that even if we didn't like the food we PRETENDED to like it anyway to make her happy (yesterday we ate pig leg with sweet and sour peanuts, rice, fried eggplant and fish, and smoky spicy sausage with green's SO GOOD.).

other highlights of the new year’s feasting included several members attempting to make more americanized food because they thought we might be sick of eating so much chinese food. it was so thoughtful and really was appreciated especially towards the end when we all thought we were going to explode from all the chicken feet, fried fish (an entire fish just fried up. it still has the head, eyeballs......EVERYTHING. but very tasty!), rice, rice, more rice, shrimp, pork, and beef. it was all delicious and i'm extremely grateful it was just.......a lot. ;P

this week our mission is doing "power week" which means we leave the door to start proselyting at 9 instead of 10:30 and we have to eat meals/do language study "on the go" so we can have as much time as possible to proselyte and contact people in the streets. it has been pretty exhausting but really really great. every day of the week we have a different theme to focus on and if we hit the challenge we call our mission president and say "mission accomplished!" welll.....we haven't gotten to make that phone call yet but we have been working extremely hard!!! yesterday was "power book of mormon day" and the challenge was to hand out at least 15 copies of the book of mormon, exchange contact information, and make plans to follow up with the people we gave the books to.

to start the day we decided to go to this park where the elders have had a ridiculous amount of self
contacts lately. to get there we have to go on this bike path right by sister yi's house which means we were lugging tons of books up the huge hill. i was panting like a dog but had to keep riding fast because there are a couple of spots where temperamental dogs run out and act like they are going to bite you if you are biking too slowly. once we were on the path i saw an old woman sitting on a chair kind of off to the side. i didn't know why but i knew we had to talk to her. i was too out of breath to yell at sister l and just hoped that she would know too. she did. it turns out it was sister guo, a friend of sister yi. :) we talked to her for a bit and gave her a book of mormon.

we were having a really good conversation and had just written down her phone number when suddenly this man rode up on his bike out of nowhere and said "please, i need your help. you have to help my wife you have to help my wife. she wants to die please help her" the situation was pretty weird but my companion and i really felt like we should go with him. "you better go help him!" sister guo said. so we rode off after this man down a street i had never seen (my comp knew where we were. i promise this is not as sketchy as it sounds. if he turned down a dark alley way we were going to turn back and ride as fast as our beefy legs could carry us) and through this really weird park that was like sunshine and aztec themed park and i just thought to myself "what is HAPPENING right now???" when we pulled up in front of the house we saw a woman sitting on a stool, weeping. i knelt down quietly beside her and we started to talk. she seemed ok with having us there. i said "we are representatives of jesus christ". "i know." she said, sniffeling. "how do you know?" sister l asked. "i saw your nametags" she replied.

this woman was in quite a state. she talked to us about some very stressful family issues....i can only imagine how difficult her situation must be. she kept saying how she wanted to die. it was so intense. we said everything we felt like we needed to and she still wouldn't let us share a scripture with her but she said "i know where your new chapel is....i go walk there sometimes. someday when i am ready to talk to you, i'll come find you at the new chapel." and then she left to go to the hospital cause she wanted to get away from the family situation.

after that we talked to the husband for a little bit. we read 2 nephi 31:20 with him and it seemed to give him great relief. we gave him a copy of the book of mormon and he looked like he was about to cry and he said "thank you SO much." he gave us his information and said the elders could come and visit him. before we left i said "brother, how did you know where to find us?" and he said "God sent me. it was because of the will of God I was able to find you." it was such a strange but powerful experience. on the one hand, he is so troubled, but on the other we were not even near his house, so how could he have found us except if he was led there? all i know is that sister l and i were supposed to meet them both and speak the words of peace and comfort that we did. there is nothing so exquisite and beautiful as having the feeling that you were where you were supposed to be, WHEN you were supposed to be and God could use you to establish His purposes because of it.

a funny little companion has a really special style of could say she is so determined to preach the gospel that she will sacrifice her own life if she has to! the other day we were riding along and this guy opened his car door right in front of my companion so she crashed into it. thankfully she wasn't hurt but he felt really bad and rushed us over to his wife's shop across the street where his wife rubbed some kind of ointment on my companion's foot and leg. we got to talking and before we left i said "i know the circumstances under which we met are really strange but....i feel like we were supposed to meet you. do you guys want to come to church on sunday??|" we exchanged
information and left. the next day this guy called to make sure my companion was ok and then out of the BLUE he showed up at church on sunday with his kids. his wife had to work and she is the one who has the most interest but it was so unbelievable. i was like "sister l what if they get baptized???? and what is he going to tell people when they ask him how he met the missionaries???". i guess i should probably stop telling you stories like this cause i know it freaks mom out but i'm the safest person ever. i ring my bell like crazy and always look at the cars we ride past so i don't get doored. i'm really extremely safe (except that one time i got hit by a car but i repented and have not done illegal maneuvers since then even if my companions do!!!! i swear! don't worry :D)

so i'm pretty much obsessed with any and all scriptures that make mention of "the isles of the sea" because of how fitting they are to my current situation. last week i read 2 nephi 10:20-21 and nearly fainted because of how overwhelmed i was by how much i loved it. it says

"and now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea.
But great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea; wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren."

it's a good thing i could use 3 different ways to overly emphasize how much i love this scripture. i am especially struck by the notion that the promises of the Lord are great to those who are brought to these isles by the hand and will of the Lord. it touches my heart to have that continual realization that God is so mindful of us...even if we just feel like we're on a little speck of land surrounded by the vast easily forgotten by all...except for Him.

"And now behold, the Lord remembereth all them who have been broken off, wherefore he remembereth us also." (2 nephi 10:22) I like that these words "broken off" are used if to suggest that anyone who is cast out, despised, separated, different....they are each remembered by God. Through our sins we may estrange ourselves to Him but He does not so quickly forget--He never NEVER forgets: "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; they walls are continually before me." (1 Nephi 21:16).

The blessings of God and of the Savior have indeed been great as received by this little missionary. I feel my Savior's love for me every single day. it absolutely sustains me and gives me life. my favorite feeling in the world is being able to feel His love for the people around me....and because it is so powerful i can love them too even if i hardly know them or only know them for a short amount of time.

Jesus really does love everyone. i remember i used to think it sounded so......cliche when people would say "Jesus loves you!" and sometimes people say it in kind of a disrespectful or joking way but it's so true. i love to tell people that because i know it is true.

i love you i love you

sister coco

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